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Michelle  LaRue

Michelle LaRue

Renowned Ecologist


Dr. Michelle LaRue is a research ecologist and public speaker at the University of Minnesota, where she focuses on ecological and conservation issues from North America to Antarctica. Her research centers on the distribution, habitat and effects of human impacts on populations of Emperor and Adélie penguins, Weddell seals, polar bears and cougars. Read More >

LaRue’s work has resulted in the first ever population estimates of two penguin species, informed the United States’ proposal for the internationally-debated Ross Sea Marine Protected Area, and launched her to the executive director position of The Cougar Network, which is the premiere research organization on cougar habitat and recolonization in North America.

LaRue started her research career working as an undergraduate intern studying food habits of bats and habitat use of white-tail deer at Minnesota State University Mankato. This work propelled her to a master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, which she received in 2007, where she focused on potential habitat and eastward range expansion of cougars in midwestern North America. Since then, LaRue has not only honed her research and communication skills, but she has worked as private consultant and grant-writer, published more than a dozen papers and lead a field team in Antarctica for five seasons before finishing her PhD in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota. 

LaRue has a passion for science communication, and her cutting-edge research and accessibility make her one of the foremost communicators in her field. Routinely asked to present to a variety of audiences, she has given dozens of presentations ranging from guest lectures and small gatherings at the Audubon Society to prestigious meetings like Gordon Research Conference and IdeaCity. Over the past ten years, her internationally-recognized research has been covered by hundreds of media outlets, including articles The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, and The Guardian, and TV and radio interviews on NBC Nightly News, BBC and NPR. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Michelle LaRue at Ideacity

Speech Topics

Ecology, Behavior & Effects of Climate Change on Species at the Extreme

Michelle LaRue explains how changes at both poles are different, such as ice is shrinking in the Arctic, but expanding in Antarctic. In addition, she outlines why those changes are happening and what that means for the ecosystem as well as the animals within it.